How to Use Outreach Outside Your Niche for SEO SuccessBy Tom Shearman

If you’re like me, you’ve considered the following conundrum: The Internet is a pretty big place, and yet you find yourself trying to your clients featured on the same websites, and mentioned in the same industry publications, again and again and again. It’s a total grind, and you find yourself thinking you must be seeing diminishing returns.

Well from an SEO and link building perspective, you are. After a point, this grind is a waste of your time.

The biggest reason is because there’s literally diminishing returns in getting links over and over again from the same domain. Search engine algorithms give far more credence to the number of sites linking to your site than they do to the number of links to your site.

Luckily, there’s another way. In working on SEO campaigns jointly with media relations agencies, we’ve had huge joint success by pivoting away from a client’s core niche, and creating content for completely new audiences

But What if the Audience Doesn’t Buy?

That’s a great question. What’s the point in reaching an audience who won’t (or can’t) buy my products?

While SEO has been moving away from highly scalable, low-quality link building, links are still the biggest predictor of SEO success. And though “relevant” links are a big help, the best links are still high authority links that strengthen your domain, built through content marketing.

What this means is that, if your client naturally fits in an interior design niche, a link from Forbes is still going to do far more for their site than a link from most interior design blogs.

Where Do We Begin for SEO Success?

If the whole Internet is your oyster, how do you decide which sites to actually target?

Here’s an example:

We work with an ecommerce client that specializes in discount furnishings, from curtains to throw rugs. We’d already done plenty of pieces for this client for a design niche, and we were starting to see diminishing returns. We’d also seen the average domain authority in the niche was low, and many bloggers were requesting payment for placements—straining our already limited budget.

Pivoting away from a design audience, we had to answer two questions—one from our client’s perspective, the other from the perspective of a publisher in a newly targeted niche.


So what kind of authority do we want them to be? Or put another way, what kinds of keywords do we want them to rank for?

Our first response was “an authority on design,” but this was already established through our past outreach and link building.

So we dug deeper.

The client’s big differentiator is price, so we decided to get more specific, establishing them as “an authority on budget design.”

To our second question—what kind of audience would benefit from their expertise on “designing on a budget”? We decided to map out their “shoulder niches” to see what we came up with.


After brainstorming and testing some ideas for each vertical, we decided to make a piece about “Home Staging on a Budget” for real estate sites.

The results?

The piece was featured on dozens of high authority sites including Redfin,, and Inman. Sure, these sites didn’t lead to any direct sales, but the links built were the largest factor in us beating our organic revenue goal by over 60 percent.

How Do I Choose?

If you map your shoulder niches and it doesn’t become clear where you should start, consider starting with the highest authority niche you can first.

There are plenty of ways you can research this, but a simple method is to put together a prospecting list for each niche, and use Open Site Explorer or the MozBar to check the average domain authority of the sites on each list.

Getting away from the grind of reaching out to the same sites again and again can be a great strategy both for improving your SEO results, and stoking your own creativity.

Have you tried doing outreach outside your core niche before? If so, how’d it go?

Tom Shearman

Tom Shearman is the Senior Content Manager at Digital Third Coast, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago.

View all posts by Tom Shearman